"My own still shadow-world" : melancholy and feminine intermediacy in Charlotte Brontë's Villette
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Lucy Snowe, the heroine of Villette, Charlotte Brontë’s final novel, is in constant conflict with the dichotomies of patriarchal culture. As she is perpetually torn between the opposing forces of patriarchy, Lucy Snowe inhabits what she calls her own “still shadow-world” (Brontë164). This thesis explains the nature of the intermediate space Lucy Snowe occupies and examines its repercussions on her mental state. Chapter One theorizes the effect of patriarchal dichotomies on Lucy Snowe to demonstrate that her mental conflict has its roots in the female experience of the opposition between nature and culture. Chapter Two’s analysis of the nineteenth-century medical understanding of madness shows that Lucy Snowe’s melancholy is a symptom of the intermediacy created by conflicting patriarchal expectations. Chapter Three compares Lucy Snowe to the female figure in patriarchal master narratives, which draws attention to the serious consequences of patriarchal culture on women and demonstrates that Lucy is representative of women in conflict with patriarchal expectations. Ultimately, as part of Charlotte Brontë’s endeavor to represent “truth” rather than “reality,” Villette challenges patriarchal expectations of women and presents a different vision of womanhood.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeVargo, Lisa; Stephanson, Raymond A.; Roy, Wendy; Farthing, Gerald
Copyright DateJuly 2007